BY CAROLYN O’NEIL
Tired of ordering the fish or chicken? If you scan the entree choices on restaurant menus aiming to find a lean meat that meets your healthy eating goals, you might overlook the lamb. On average, a 3-ounce serving of lamb has only 175 calories and meets the Food and Drug Administration’s definition for lean.
According to FDA guidelines, lean meat has less than 10 grams of fat, less than 4.5 grams of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol for 3.5 ounces. And besides being an excellent source of protein (23 grams in 3-ounce serving), lamb is a powerhouse of many other important nutrients, including three B vitamins (B-12, niacin and riboflavin) and the minerals zinc and iron.
So, go ahead and order the roasted Colorado lamb rack and braised shoulder on the menu at Craft or the slow-braised lamb shank with Greek-style couscous at Kyma.
One of the foundations of choosing foods for a healthy diet is getting a variety of nutrients. That’s another reason to mix up your entree choice instead of always ordering the same thing.
How do you like your lamb? Lamb lends itself to versatile internationally inspired recipes, whether your favorite dish is Mediterranean-style grilled kebabs or a slow-cooked Moroccan lamb tagine. It’s also a great taste partner for other elements of healthy dining such as salads, grilled vegetables, flavorful low-fat sauces and exciting spice blends. At the Imperial Fez restaurant, Moroccan-born chef Rafih Benjelloun braises lamb tagine with saffron and sweet onions.
Executive chef Pano Karatassos at Kyma marinates lamb chops for three days in a classic Greek blend of olive oil, lemon and oregano before they hit the grill. Because lamb is such a lean meat, it lends itself to slow-cooked stews or to high-heat quick-cooking methods, such as searing in a skillet or grilling, which add flavor but keep the meat juicy and tender.
Grilled lamb can elevate a salad to entree status, too. At Nan Thai Fine Dining in Midtown, the fresh and flavorful dish gaht yang is a presentation of Thai-style lamb chops with green papaya salad and sticky rice.
So, whether you opt for traditional steakhouse lamb chops with mint jelly or lamb tenderloin in a Thai red curry, leaning on lamb can be another menu option for diners who crave great taste and good health.